Jenn Brown's blog

Movies This Week: Dogme Alums Get An Education with Bronson

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Bronson by Alamo Drafthouse.

Happy Friday the 13th! Walk under a ladder, hang out with a black cat, and see some movies.  It's a very British heavy release week; three British films are opening in town (two with Emma Thompson in them). Two films new to Austin are directed by Dogme 95 alums. You know, the minimalist film movement started by Lars von Triers and others to thumb their noses at Hollywood and big budgets, with a manifesto demanding a vow of cinematic chastity?  Can you guess which film on the list is anti-Dogme? 

An Education -- It's London in the 1960s, and a teenage girl encounters a playboy in this coming of age story.  Directed by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners, Dogme #12 ), with a slew of memorable actors, including Dollhouse's Olivia Williams, Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice), Dominic Cooper (The History Boys), and the inestimable Emma Thompson.  Only a select few were able to see this at AFF this year, including our Jette.   (Arbor)

Review: 2012

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2012 featuring John Cusack and Woody Harrelson

If disaster porn is your thing, you'll like 2012. If, however, you like to have something, anything plausible to suspend your disbelief on, don't bother with 2012. Not even the roster of normally outstanding actors can save it.

Under the premise that the cataclysmic events associated with the Mayan calendar are true, 2012 assumes that solar flares will cause tectonic plate shifts, scientists rush to save the world with a little over two years til D-Day, aka December 21, 2012.  An earnest geologist, Adrian (Chiwetel Ejiofor) meets with a peer in India (Jimi Mistry, who rates lower in the credits than two brothers in their first role who can't act).   Dr. Satnam Tsurutani (Mistry) melodramatically opens a hatch to show boiling ground water.  Much gravitas and the requisite losing of cool at an official at a fundraiser, and "Call me Adrian" is suddenly leading the charge to save civilization. Said official, Anheuser (Oliver Platt), gets immediately set up as a Machiavellian plotter.  

Review: Bronson

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bronson by Alamo Drafthouse.

How do you make a film about one of the most documented delinquent characters in the British penal system? Turn it into an interpretive theatrical extravaganza. And that's just what director Nicolas Winding Refn does in the Fantastic Fest hit Bronson

Charlie Bronson, who's earned the epithet of most violent/famous/expensive prisoner in the UK penal system, has more character than most 10 people put together. And he knows it.  Looking at a list of the man's escapades, with violence and ridiculous demands, it make sense to turn the story into an absurdist commentary on the cult of celebrity and the addiction to fame. 

Slackery News Tidbits for 11/11

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So much news this week, we had to post two rounds of Slackery News. 

  • Fantastic Fest fave A Town Called Panic, is not only opening at the Alamo in January, but is among the 20 Animated Features Line Up for 2009 Oscar® Race.  The absurd tale of Horse and his roomates Cowboy and Indian is delightfully and refreshingly funny.  Now I need some Nutella on toast.
  • David Lowery’s narrative feature St. Nick will be the only American film in the main competition when it make its international premiere at the 50th Thessaloniki Film Festival as well as the Lone Star Film Festival.   The film received a 2007 TFPF grant for production and participated in AFS’s Narratives-in-Progress program last year and premiered at SXSW 2009.

AFF Review: Holy Hell

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What happens when a financially strapped Church can't afford to continue? They make a horror movie, of course.  At least, that's the premise of Holy Hell, a well-named Austin film by Rafael Antonio Ruiz and co-writer L.B. Bartholomee.

Reverend Lane (Ken Edwards) as a humble man who lives the Bible, instead of forcing it down other's throats.  But his flock is dwindling, and his church doesn't have the money to keep the doors open.  The decision to make a film stirs up more controversy than they'd ever expect, especially as word gets out it's a horror film.  Suddenly they find themselves at odds with a superchurch, which sends an army of protesters to shut them down.

AFF Review: Straight to the Bone

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Everything changes, cities as well as relationships.  That theme is underscored in Erik Mauck's latest film, Straight to the Bone, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival.   Mauck's previous film, the Austin based documentary Zombie Girl: The Movie, played Fantastic Fest last year.

Living in Austin for any length of time eventually results in the lamentation of how much the city is changing, and as hard as change may be for some, growth is essential for every living organism or relationship.  No longer a student, Shannon wants something more meaningful in her life, but her boyfriend Jay is content with the status quo.  Happening upon an act of kindness makes it impossible for Shannon (River Gareth) to remain complacent.  Blake (Ryan Edgerly), a stranger, makes her realize just what she's missing. Jay (Matt Thornton) doesn't take well to the notion that good enough isn't enough anymore, and after a fight over his annoyance at her sense of responsibility, he takes off in a childish snit.

Range Life Fall Tour Brings Seven Indie Films to Austin

Range Life and the Onion's AV Club are bringing a week's worth of special engagement screenings to Austin starting on the 14th.  All are independent comedies, with the first film, White on Rice, is screening as part of the Austin Asian American Film Festival at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. With the exception of White on Rice, all films are at 9:30pm at the Dobie.  Check out the list below, as three films will include Q&A, and one will be followed by a live band performance. 

For more information about the Range Life Fall Tour '09, or to view trailers, go to their website

Movies This Week: The Damned (Untitled) Carol Gentlemen

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The Box

Thanks to everyone who came out forThe Men Who Stare at Goats last night; it was a great turnout. It was so full we had to turn people away, even with two theaters (and two other sponsors, but still, Slackerwood fans represented). Keep following us on Twitter for future screenings.

Austin offers plenty of movies to see this week before the Austin Asian American Film Festival starts next Thursday. Check out the list below, and our personal picks to help you decide.

The Box -- Richard Kelly, the mastermind behind Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, directed this cautionary tale of a couple being offered a million dollars ... but at the price of killing someone they don't know. The movie (pictured above) is based on Richard Matheson's short story "Button, Button" and stars Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella.

Review: The Fourth Kind

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After the phenomenal success of Paranormal Activity, audiences are hungering for the next sensational film experience, and by the trailers, The Fourth Kind wants to be it. Unfortunately, it's an incoherent mess that overreaches its potential.

The pretense is that a newly widowed psychologist, Abbey Tyler, is continuing with her husband's work and notices eerie similarities among some patients, resulting in horrifying discoveries that suggest alien abductions.  It's hard to avoid that conclusion early, because the all the trailers and marketing material emphasizes that. 

Austin Asian American Film Festival Preview

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AAAFF 2009Next Thursday, the sixth annual Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) begins for four days of films, panels and special events celebrating the best in Asian and Asian American independent film.  Like other niche festivals, it's got a lot more to offer than the title might suggest to the uninitiated. 

This is a town that celebrates film, not just the big festivals, so it should not be surprising that the films will have universal appeal despite their only common themes being an Asian connection. It is also a good reminder that Asia is much more than the countries with a northern Pacific coastline, and are as far west as Israel. And that Asian films are not just chop-socky; the program at AAAFF includes documentary, experimental, animated, narrative and social justice films. 

Two such films are Sita Sings the Blues and Persepolis, the former an Independent Spirit Award nominated film, and the latter nominated for an Oscar. Both are beautifully made, personal stories within animated works that are equally poignant and sharp. And luckily for us, both are screening for free to the general public. Sita Sings the Blues is screening at the MACC, and Persepolis is part of an outdoor celebration that will include bands and food vendors. 

Among the other films and events to catch during AAAFF:

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